6 Month Study and Practice Guide – original IMCW White Awake group

Lord Buddha for InsightThis sample template is loosely based on the original, 6 month curriculum designed by the White Awake group of IMCW practitioners from whose practice White Awake began (see About / “History” for the full story). The format of the meetings is loosely based on Kalyana Mitta, or “Spiritual Friends”, Insight group practice. This curriculum is divided into two sections:

The goal of this curriculum is to inspire and guide self organized small groups as they engage in their own educational process, bringing a simple mindfulness practice to each group meeting. It is recommended that a core of 3-5 participants meet ahead of time to decide on exact questions, materials, and sequencing to be used over the course of the 6 monthly meetings (an alternate arrangement is two meetings a month over the course of 3 months). This study group template is offered as a format for 10-15 total participants. Rotating facilitation is recommended.

General Monthly Format (2 hours)

15 minute sitting meditation (see Mindfulness Practices)

Review Shared Agreements

Introduction of questions for self reflection OR external material for group investigation
(5-30 minutes)
Some reading at home (prior to meeting) is recommended for incorporating more external sources of information into the group process, however sharing materials together while the group is in session is valuable and not to be overlooked (see “Remedial Education”).

Mindful Sharing (50-75 minutes)
Mindful Sharing involves each participant sharing from personal experience. There is no discussion or cross-talk during this time period, only personal sharing. It is common practice for each speaker to bow to the group at the beginning and end of their share.

15 minute sitting meditation

Group Reflection (10 minutes)
Group Reflection is like Mindful Sharing in that there is no discussion or cross-talk, however the focus is on what kind of experience the participants had during the meeting rather than on the content covered. For example, if the group responded to questions about their personal experience with race during the Mindful Sharing, during Group Reflection participants could talk about what it was like to respond to these questions.

Guiding questions can be presented such as: “What was it like to be the first person who shared?”; “What was it like to be last person who shared?”; “Were you deeply moved by something another person said? Can you speak to that?”; “What was it like to engage in (name a particular exercise) today?”; or “What was it like to respond to (particular questions) today?”

Themes and Activities (6 sessions)

1st Session – Personal Experience with Race
Use questions from “White is a Racial Identity” to help participants articulate where they are with respect to their racial awareness without setting any standard about where that should be.

Spend at least 10 minute at the beginning of the 1st session establishing group norms and Shared Agreements.

2nd Session – Historical Racism
Bring in materials (and consider engaging in some reading ahead of time) about the historical context of racism. Respond to this material through Mindful Sharing.

3rd Session – Contemporary Institutional Racism
Bring in materials (and consider engaging in some reading ahead of time) about the current, institutional forms of racism. Respond to this material through Mindful Sharing.

4th Session – Seeing Racism in the World Around Us
In this session, alternate between exercises such as “Levels of Racism” or “Specific Application” and Mindful Sharing.

5th Session – Applying our Spiritual Practice
Assuming that participants in this small group share a spiritual practice (or are comfortable sharing with one another from their differing spiritual perspectives), present questions such as these: “How does our spiritual practice help us with the pain that focusing on racism brings up?”; and “How does our spiritual practice inform our response to racism?” Follow these questions with Mindful Sharing.

The group may want to reflect on how social justice is addressed in different traditions, and how we can learn from and be inspired by the different types of responses made by different spiritual communities. In this context, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr is an accessible source of inspiration in the way that he worked inclusively with a wide spectrum of people, including white people who wanted to act in solidarity with those who were racially oppressed.

Building on Dr. King’s concept of “beloved community”, this session also presents a good opportunity to reflect on the importance of supporting one another and other white people in their process of developing racial awareness. While we may want to interrupt racism, ask provocative questions, or speak to our own developing awareness and concern, we can establish a commitment to avoid competition and judgment when interacting with one another and other white people around race.

6th Session – Going Forth
This session offers group members the opportunity to pave the way for applying new awareness to their daily lives. Activities such as “Building relationships with people of color” and “Allies and Intervention Playback” can be adapted to the small group study format and incorporated into or followed by Mindful Sharing.

Return to Sample Curriculum table of contents